From its sweaty beats to the pulsating music on the streets, Latin/o America is perceived in the United States as the land of heat, the toy store for Western sex. It is the territory of magical fantasy and of revolutionary threat, where topography is the travel guide of desire, directing imperial voyeurs to the exhibition of the flesh. Jose Quiroga flips the stereotype upside down: he shows how Latin/o American lesbians and gay men have consistently eschewed tions of sexual identity for a politics of intervention. In Tropics of Desire, Quiroga reads hesitant Mexican poets as sex-positive voices, he questions how outing and identity politics can fall prey to the manipulations of the state, and explores how invisibility has been used as a tactical tool in opposition to the universal imperative to come out. Drawing on diverse cultural examples such as the performance of bolero and salsa, film, literature, and correspondence, and influenced by masters like Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin and a rich tradition of Latin American stylists, Quiroga argues for a politics that denies biological determinism and cannibalizes cultural stereotypes for the sake of political action.
Jose Quiroga is Professor of Spanish at The George Washington University and author of Understanding Octavio Paz.